It took me years to truly appreciate The Beach Boys.
Like everybody else, I knew all the hits from the radio. But I didn’t really go beyond that until I started to review all the reissues and anthologies and box sets that the band and their label have been churning out regularly for decades now. That’s when I finally figured out that they had a lot more depth and range than all those surf-pop singles. But here’s the rub: Even though I’ve gained a lot of respect for The Beach Boys, I’ve never been a fan of their box sets. For my money, they always feel padded out with inessential filler like alternate mixes, raw backing tracks, vocal tracks separated from the music and random live recordings from here, there and everywhere. As I suspected, the latest entry Feel Flows follows the same formula: Of the five-disc set’s 100-plus previously unreleased cuts, only a couple of dozen could qualify as actual rarities in the form of finished songs. On the plus side, though — and it’s a big plus — Sunflower happens to be one of the most underrated Beach Boys albums, so even the filler is pretty interesting. Meanwhile, Surf’s Up features some truly oddball bonus fare, including the bizarro mad-scientist number My Solution and a cover of Terry Jacks’ Seasons In The Sun. Plus the set includes cuts that surfaced on later sets like Carl And The Passions and an aborted solo album from drummer Dennis Wilson. If all that doesn’t make you truly appreciate The Beach Boys, I reckon nothing will.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In honour of 50 years of The Beach Boys’ timeless and often underappreciated albums, they have released an expansive 5 CD box set titled Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971 that chronicles and explores in depth this metamorphic and highly influential period of the band’s legendary career.
Assembled by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd, the team behind 2013’s Grammy-winning SMiLE Sessions, the expansive collection features newly remastered versions of Sunflower and Surf’s Up and boasts 135 tracks, including 108 previously unreleased tracks, live recordings, radio promos, alternate versions, alternate mixes, isolated backing tracks and acapella versions, culled from the album sessions. Housed in a book-style package, the set is rounded out with a 48-page book loaded with unreleased and rare photos, lyric sheets, tape box images, recording artifacts, insightful new liner notes by noted radio veteran and Beach Boys afficionado Howie Edelson, and new and archival interviews from Al Jardine, Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and others.”